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How to Photograph Star Trails

Ready to dive into the wonderful world of star trail photography? Star trails can be a lot of fun to photograph and a great way to add something unique to your portfolio. They can be a bit tricky to shoot at first. Here you will find out how to photograph star trails.

Star Trail Photography Places & Times

Star Trail PhotographyStar trail photography is all about location, location, location. First, we need to head to an area that is not filled with light pollution in order to actually photograph the star trails. More importantly, we need an interesting foreground. Your photo is going to be pretty boring if there’s absolutely nothing going on, aside from the star movement. That might work for one shot but beyond that your star trail photography is going to get repetitive really fast.

The light pollution produced from city lights will make the stars less visible in your shots. So, look for potential star photography locations during the day that are far away from any city lights. Find locations that consist of stationary subjects of interest such as a mountain, old barn, rock formation, and so on.

You will want to plan your star trail photography adventures on nights where there is no moon. Consider the moon as another form of light pollution. You will also need a clear sky. Even the slightest amount of clouds can ruin your images.

How to Photograph Star Trails

We’re shooting long exposures of a very small light source in the dead of the night. That means, in most situations,¬†shooting wide open with a fast lens is going to be your best option. I find that shooting around f/2.8 will provide great results for most start trail photography. Naturally, you will also be using a sturdy tripod when shooting star trails to eliminate camera shake.

The length of your exposure is going to depend on many factors, primarily how dramatic you want the star movement to be. Star trail photos can range anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. Higher ISO settings are not advised because it will produce an enormous amount of noise in the images. However, you can boost your ISO on shorter test shots to calculate your shutter speed at ISO 100.

Once you’ve fully edited your amazing star trail photos, consider decorating your home with them. Lifephoto can provide you with beautiful art prints on canvas, metallic prints, or the new metallic canvas prints.

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8 Comments

  • by Arcpoint Labs of Dayton
    Posted July 15, 2013 5:24 pm 0Likes

    Wow, great picture! You make it sound easier than I expected, then again i’m no professional.

  • by RE/MAX First REALTORS
    Posted July 16, 2013 3:12 pm 0Likes

    I bet a star trail photo would look awesome printed on the metallic canvas that you mentioned, great tips!

  • by Eric Hegwood
    Posted July 18, 2013 2:41 pm 0Likes

    Star photography would look fantastic printed out as Metallic Photo Prints! If you have not used metallic photo paper for prints this would be the opportunity. Metallic star photo prints.

  • by TITLE Boxing Club Colorado Springs Bloomington
    Posted July 22, 2013 2:07 pm 0Likes

    Awesome, star trails are so amazing.
    Eric, I’ve seen some photos on Metallic and it does look really good.

  • by Ed Rippee RE/MAX Results
    Posted July 23, 2013 11:00 am 0Likes

    Wow. I have learned a lot from this!

  • by CCS Midwest
    Posted July 23, 2013 11:16 am 0Likes

    You are so informative!

  • by US Home Filter
    Posted July 23, 2013 2:47 pm 0Likes

    The star shots always look so amazing..

  • by Oltis Security Systems International
    Posted July 23, 2013 3:29 pm 0Likes

    That looks like something fun to try sometime. Thank you for sharing

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